EU issues a green card to the Philippines on illegal fishing

The European Union has revoked the warning yellow card issued to the Philippines in June 2014 regarding measures to fight illegal fishing. The EU acknowledges Philippines’ efforts to partner up with us in fighting illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. Since an official dialogue started, the Philippines embarked on a series of reforms to upgrade its fisheries governance and successfully aligned it to international law. Achievements made by the Philippines include the adoption of a new Fisheries Code with a deterrent scheme of sanctions, the improvement of the traceability and catch certification schemes, reinforced cooperation with Papua New Guinea for inspection and control and coverage of the activities of the long distant fleet operating beyond Philippines waters.

European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella, noted that; “The Philippines has taken responsible action, amended its legal systems and switched to a proactive approach against illegal fishing”. EU ambassador to the Philippines, Guy Ledoux, added: “This recognition means that the “identification” procedure that had started with a yellow card in June 2014 is stopped, the yellow card revoked – thanks to the good work done by the Philippines government and Congress.”

The above efforts were supported by EU technical assistance to the Department of Agriculture.

Satisfied with this outcome, the European Commission has stopped formal discussions with the Philippines’ authorities and looks forward to the Philippines as a valuable ally on sustainable management within global and regional organisations.

The European Union is committed to the sustainable exploitation of fisheries resources at home and abroad. It considers illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing a global criminal activity harmful not only to EU fishermen, but also to local communities in developing countries. The Philippines, with large coastal communities depending on fisheries, is proving a strong partner to help ensure the sustainability of livelihood and global fisheries.


Between 11 and 26 million tonnes of fish, i.e. at least 15% of world catches, are caught illegally every year. This is worth between 8 and 19 billion euros. As the world’s biggest fish importer, the EU does not wish to be complicit and accept such products into its market. The so-called ‘IUU Regulation’, which entered into force in 2010, allows access onto the EU market only to fisheries products that have been certified as legal by the flag State concerned. When flag States are unable to certify their products, the Commission starts a process of cooperation and assistance with them to help improve their legal frameworks. The milestones of this process are the warnings (yellow cards), the green cards if issues are solved and the red cards if they aren’t – the latter leading to a trade ban.

Like Korea and the Philippines, in October 2014 also Fiji, Panama, Togo and Vanuatu got a green card, as they had solved the issues identified by the Commission. Formal dialogue is still ongoing with Ghana and Curaçao, which received formal warnings in November 2013; Papua New Guinea, warned in June 2014; and Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, warned in December 2014. Most of these countries are now cooperating constructively with the Commission, making significant progress in their fisheries management systems in order to curb illegal fishing. By contrast, fisheries products caught by vessels from Sri Lanka, Guinea and Cambodia are banned from being imported into the EU. Belize was withdrawn from the black list in December 2014, after it adopted lasting measures to address the shortcomings of its fisheries systems.

Fishery exports from the Philippines to the EU amounted to EUR 170 million in 2013, out of a total EUR 5.1 billion. Since the inclusion of the Philippines in the GSP+ trade preferential scheme by December last year, the sector is already benefiting from substantial trade preferences when exporting to the European Union. (Eagle News Service/European Delegation to the Philippines)